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Commvault CEO: "Our best years are still to come"

Just a week and a half after taking up the position of CEO at Commvault Sanjay Mirchandani took some time to talk of his decision to join the firm and his thoughts about the future

One of the first things that Sanjay Mirchandani did after becoming the CEO of Commvault was to produce a video for partners informing them of the importance they were to the data management player.

Ten days into the job and Mirchandani is keen to talk about making life for partners and customers easier and to make sure that the channel understand the door is always open to give the CEO feedback on the firm's progress with partners.

Neither the channel or storage are new to Mirchandani, who has a 32 year career in the industry, including spells at Microsoft, EMC/VMware and recently Puppet.

He racked up 12 years at Microsoft and then a decade at EMC and VMware and then got into Puppet and went deeper into the open source and cloud world.

"I am one of these rare breeds that stays a long time because you have got to enjoy the technology you are working with to be really passionate about solving hard problems for your customers and if you are not really solving hard problems then what's really the point?" he said.

The advantage of choosing to take the position at Commvault he argued, is that the firm is in a strong position given the current data explosion.

"Commvault has really been spending the last 20 years getting ready for where we are today with the explosion in the world of information and data. We are the best poised to make something of it for our customers. A lot of the things that people are trying to figure out now we figured out a while back," he added "We are ready and we have been ready."

"It is about the data and at the end of the day whether it is systems of record or analytics, you can pick a different theme or choice word, it is really giving customers value out of the information we have been able to manage and protect and give them more with it," he added.

With his varied background, working with storage, cloud and open source, Mirchandani is keen to stress that the skill is not only coming up with useful tools but making sure they can be delivered in a way that works for a large number of users.

"One of the things I learnt in the world of devops is that it's very easy to get a cottage industry of tools mashed together to solve a problem. But when you have to go from a cottage industry to an industrialisation process that is a whole different game and a whole different journey," he said.

"I was a CIO for almost five years so I have a ton of respect for what it takes to run something, as opposed to building of deploying something only," he added.

"That's why I'm here because I think we do that really well in a space I'm very excited about. If I over simplified it I would say it is all about the data and the third platform and where the world is going and we are in a good spot," he said.

The 80/60 plan

He is also a firm believer in the channel and has worked with partners in most of his former roles. That was why he took to video to speak to them on day one: "The ecosystem, which includes our parthers, we can't do without them and you are going to hear about that quite loud and quite clearly."

"It is super important to me and integral to how we do business," he added.

To make sure he gets a firm grip on what is happening at Commvault he has set himself the goal of meeting 80% of the staff in the first 60 days.

"The first 60 to 90 days are pivotal because it is all about assimilation with me learning about what makes this company is what it is. I also wanted to do it in a way that addressed some of the things I had heard coming in. So things like our value proposition to our customers to make sure that's solid. My plan is about listening to people and our employees," he said.

"I'm spending a lot of time making sure that the products and the product roadmaps that we have got underway are doing what customers want and I want to validate that for myself," he said.

The advantage is that he is coming into replace an outgoing CEO Bob Hammer, who is retiring after doing the job for 20 years, and is on hand to make the transition a smooth one. He is being given the time to speak to staff, partners and customers.

"It is the best of all worlds for me. I have had to go into other situations where the first hour on the job you have had to know everything. I am hugely thankful I have been given the time to spend with customers and partners," he said.

In the town hall meetings he has held so far staff have been encouraged to ask the hard questions and the expectation is that the channel will be doing the same.

In a good position

In terms of the future it is very early days but Mirchandani feels that the data explosion means that Commvault is in a very strong position and it is able to show it can manage and secure data and it is about helping customers do more with their information.

"Customers want choice and there has never been a better time that right now to be a customer of technology. The fluidity of information and choices around technology and architectures," he added "Approaches like devops have made it so you can crank stuff out real quick and you can fail fast."

"The adoption curves on tecnology are going through a far greater compression that ever before. What would have taken ten years in years gone by for a technology to become super mainstream with a channel behind it and developer models and infrastructure deployment models," he added "Now it is taking two to three years so the role of the channel and the ecosystem is they have to be so lockstep that the value we bring to our customers to solve the issues are almost natural to them."

Mirchandani is just a few days into his time as CEO at Commvault but the excitement he feels is palpable and he is clearly ready for the challenge ahead.

"I have reason to be excited. I am fortunate that I was selected to be part of this team. This is a company that has stood the test of time and its best years are still to come," he concludes.

This was last published in February 2019

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